Saturday, November 27, 2004

We want Isaiah's vision.

Nation will not lift sword against nation,
there will be no more training for war.

(Isaiah 2:4)

We want to move from numbing unawareness.

Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep.
(Romans 13:110

We want to watch, carefully.

Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
(Matt 24:41)

Advent says it is coming.

Of all good works, zazen comes first, for the merit of only one step into it surpasses that of erecting a thousand temples. Even a moment of sitting will enable you to free yourself from life and death, and your Buddha nature will appear of itself. Then all you do, perceive, think becomes part of the miraculous Tathagata-suchness.
- Meiho (1277-1350)

Zazen tells the truth.

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant --
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind --

(Emily Dickinson, #1129)

Dazzling lightning gradually approaching.

Christ seeing us through.

Sitting true.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Note: Bookshop and Bakery closed today, Friday.
Friday Evening's Conversation Interreligious Dialogue will take place at the hermitage, 5:30-6:30pm.
Be back tomorrow, Saturday, 10:30am.

The authentic interests us.

An Introduction to Some Poems

Look: no one ever promised for sure
that we would sing. We have decided
to moan. In a strange dance that
we don't understand till we do it, we
have to carry on.

Just as in sleep you have to dream
the exact dream to round out your life,
so we have to live that dream into stories
and hold them close at you, close at the
edge we share, to be right.

We find it an awful thing to meet people,
serious or not, who have turned into vacant
effective people, so far lost that they
won't believe their own feelings
enough to follow them out.

The authentic is a line from one thing
along to the next; it interests us.
strangely, it relates to what works,
but is not quite the same. It never
swerves for revenge,

Or profit, or fame: it holds
together something more than the world,
this line. And we are your wavery
efforts at following it. Are you coming?
Good: now it is time.

(Poem: "An Introduction To Some Poems" by William Stafford, from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems © Graywolf Press, 1998.)

It worries, still, we have swerved for revenge. A Zen Master used to say, 'Only go straight.' It worries we become "vacant effective people" intent on making the world and our society in the image of a few men who wield power.

And yet, it consoles that the inauthentic has a short span. Life, they say, is ephemeral and impermanent. The authentic transcends and includes any and all limitation placed on it.

That's why the authentic interests. It "is between" any attempt to divide and dualize us into snarling pairs of opposites maligning the other.

But, there is no other.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

In the corner of the meditation cabin is Janet's small wood box with a carved anchor on top. There is nothing in the box. The box is empty. At times it is open. There is never anything in it but empty, open, space. It is our tabernacle.

Writer James Carroll suggests:
What we love most is Thanksgiving's underlying idea: that existence itself is a gift. If the holiday ritual calls for the bounty of culinary excess -- four side dishes, three kinds of pie, two forms of cranberry -- it is not to celebrate affluence but to acknowledge the accidental richness of life itself. The multiple desserts are tribute to all that we don't deserve. In taking time away from work, we are remembering that the most precious things are those that we do nothing to earn.

At Mass this morning I looked at the tabernacle as the priest prepared the altar for communion. The door was open. The space was empty. The Eucharist, if you will, the Body of Christ, was out and about. The dwelling-place of the sacramental Jesus was open and empty. The whole process of remembering the true nature of what we call “God” resides in the empty open conveyance of one’s presence in the presence of one another.

An attitude of gratefulness defines us at our best. It does this by pointing away from the self toward others, or toward an Other. Conventionally religious people are quick to put the name "God" on the one being thanked, and prayers come quickly to lips this week. But the feeling of sublime indebtedness, defining what is expressly human about humanity, is larger than religion. On Thanksgiving, feast of the exuberant abundance of creation, all language about any conceivable Creator falls short because creation itself exceeds our capacity to account for it. No matter, because, in being buoyed by this most oceanic of emotions, one need not know toward whom, exactly, one feels it. Let each person be God, therefore, to every other. God enough for now.
(Published on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 by the Boston Globe "America's Heartfelt Holiday", by James Carroll

The day is foggy. Rain falls; darkness slowly lowers through shrouded trees. The road out front is quiet. Birds come to and leave feeder. Cat hopes for mis-flaps. Dogs snooze. Saskia fusses with kitchen scents. We bailed dinghy, walked Rockport Harbor, sipped tea on balcony of Hermitage Harbor Room after church. Myles was delivered a pumpkin cream cheese pie. The day is spacious with stillness.

No matter how hard Rabbi, Priest, or Minister tries to make ungrateful the nine who were healed but didn't return to Jesus to say thank you, they are misdirected. The one who returned is enough for now. In that one, all are represented. If it works for Jesus, it works for all of us – all who forget to say it, all who feel it but just keep on going, all who are surprised by sudden and unforeseen happiness – we are represented by any one among us who carries grace through our midst.

I agree with James Carroll. At our best, we are grateful.

For all of it.

Not excluding nothing.

Only you can resurrect the present. People
need your voice to come among them like nakedness,
to fuse them into one marching language in which the word
"peace" will be said for the last time.

(from Part 1 of "To American Poets" in The Naomi Poems Corpse And Beans, by Bill Knott, c.1968 in Introduction to Quickly Aging Here, Some Poets of the 1970's, edited by Geof Hewitt, c.1969)

I like the fact that Hewitt had faith there would be the 1970's in 1969.

Faith in gratefulness, accepting that nothingness reveals each as ‘Itself,’ affirming empty open space, and allowing happiness to return when it is ready -- this is my prayer, this Thanksgiving.

For all.


Monday, November 22, 2004

Music and St. Cecilia. Assassination and J.F. Kennedy. It is November 22nd.

Cecilia’s life inspires the creative spirit.
This saint, so often glorified in the fine arts and in poetry, is one of the most venerated martyrs of Christian antiquity. The oldest historical account of St. Cecilia is found in the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum"; from this it is evident that her feast was celebrated in the Roman Church in the fourth century. (

John F. Kennedy’s life inaugurates an uncertainty new to the mind.
Don DeLillo wrote, "What has become unraveled since that afternoon in Dallas is...the sense of a coherent reality most of us shared. We seem from that moment to have entered a world of randomness and ambiguity."

Today, creative spirit and uncertain mind are our odd companions.

If you want to understand that
All within the three realms
Is nothing but buddhamind,
Then contemplate that the Dharma realm
Is nothing but a product of mind.

- Avatamsaka Sutra

There is a spirit that is embodied when we learn love. There is a mind that is at peace when we allow the unhidden, when we suffer truth.

Teilhard de Chardin wrote; " If there were no real propensity to unite, even at a prodigiously rudimentary level, indeed, even in the molecule itself ~ it would be physically impossible for love to appear higher up in the ' hominized ' or human form."

(It is curious that the word 'unite' and the word 'untie' depend on where the "I" is placed.)

Becoming human is suffering love and loving truth.

He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had”. (Luke 21:1-4)

Today, we consider putting all we have into the now, all our living into the empty present.

The spirit is willing. The mind, watching, sees.

Song and sorrow chant early gray dawn-light.

Morning comes.

It is today.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Poetry, Tea, and Literature at the shop exceeded the hour limit, went for two hours Saturday afternoon, and seven out of nine of the attendees stayed for a third hour talking.

So much of human experience these days is about disapproval, trashing, belittling, bullying, eliminating, terrorizing and inciting fear. Does a healing solution to this human experience reside within the creativity of making, tasting, and intimately embodying the ontogenetic patterns of poetic intuition?

The superior students are unaware of the coming into the world of Buddhas or of the transmission of the non-transmittable by them: they eat when hungry, sleep when sleepy. Nor do they regard the world as themselves. Neither are they attached to enlightenment or illusion. Taking things as they come, they sit upright, making no idle distinctions.
- Meiho (1277-1350)

What is 'ontogenesis?' (Greek: 'onto'= being; 'genesis' = arising. Thus, arising [into, as, from, with] being.)
Ontogenesis refers to the sequence of events involved in the development of an individual organism from its birth to its death. This developmental history often involves a move from simplicity to higher complexity.
Complexity is one of those terms for which it is difficult to give a precise definition. Intuitively, it is thought of as a property or feature that implies the opposite of simplicity. Complexity is often used to describe single sytems made of multiple interacting parts.


What is arising in our midst? It is an important question.

Unless we are awake, unless we are aware, we might fail to see what is arising in our midst. This failure at this point of human and world history would be a serious failure.

This is why we gather. We read. We listen. We converse. We attend and we attend to what is arising in our midst.

What is it?

In our midst arising?

Ask. And listen.

Carefully. With creativity.

Please. Come caring into being.

Be what is, what God is, loving.

In our midst.